Recently I’ve been asked what kind of speakers I use to listen to the station. Generally, I use a now 10 year old Logitech 4.1 speaker system connected to my main PC. When I am creating the mixes you hear I either listen via my Ultrasone S-Logic headphones or I use my KRK ST6 Studio Monitors. I do my quality checks on a set of 250 watt 4 ohm Acoustic model 626 Studio Monitors that I picked up waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyy back in 1982.(Where’s my walker dagnabbit!!)
Do you need all that?
One of my Studio Monitors...
There are a lot of computer speaker set ups available in the stores right? Some of you have asked what is the difference between 2.0 and 5.1 and 7.1 systems.
To be honest, actually the main difference is the number of speakers.
A “2.0” setup would refer to the traditional stereo speaker pair (left and right). And a system that is “something”.1, like 4.1 or 5.1 and so on, is basically describing a system where you have (in the case of a 4.1 system) 4 main speakers and 1 sub-woofer (sub woofer is the speaker that kicks out all that massive bass — more on that one later).
5.1 follows the same theme. Five main speakers and one subwoofer. The main speakers are responsible for creating all of the sound that comes out of the computer while the sub woofer is specialized for creating the bass in the sound.
That’s really it in a nutshell.
Now there are some specifications you could use to compare the different systems but the best way to measure how well you like them is to go listen to them.
If possible, listen to something that you would normally listen to at home. Also take into consideration where you are listening to them at.
A lot of stores like to crank the the speakers up so as to give the impression that the louder the speakers are, the better they are. Not always the case. You want speakers that sound “full” at any volume level. By “Full” I mean that as you turn down the volume the bass or the quality of the sound doesn’t diminish along with the volume.
Also note how far apart the speakers are when listening in the store.
If they are right next to each other you really don’t get a good idea of what they will sound like when you take them home and set them up. You’ll just be able to hear how loud they can get.
I’m saying that because I have seen where demo speakers were not correctly wired up and even though I felt they sounded “weird” in the store, no one else seemed to notice.
I couldn’t confirm my suspicions until I looked at how the cables were connected to the speakers.
The left hand speaker was correctly wired so the red wire went to the positive connector on the speaker and the black wire was connected to the “negative” connection on the speaker.
The right hand speaker was the exact opposite.
When speakers are connected in this fashion, the signals going to the speakers are “out of phase”. ( Not gonna get technical..just trust me -smile)
So, some of the sound coming out one speaker was being canceled out by the other one and the music sounded “funny”.
You want a speaker system that allow you to place the speakers where they are best suited for your particular situation.
Some things to consider are:
Are the speaker cables long enough?
Do I need special hardware or tools to mount them on the walls if I desire to?
Are they too big for my shelf if I want to put them on shelves?
Are they too heavy for those shelves?
Will they fit on my desk?
If I wanted to use these brand new “hear tomorrow coming” headphones I just picked up, is there a speaker control module with a headphone jack that I can easily plug into?
Does the speaker control module have controls for the amount of Bass and or Treble, or for controlling the speakers surround sound effect in addition to volume?
Does this system require that I plug it into an power outlet for power?
How do I connect it to the computer? (Many sound systems have cables made to connect to your computer’s sound ports (usually jacks on the rear of the computer case…sometimes the cable plugs are color coded to match).
There are a number of questions one could come up with. These are just a few to get you going. Now as a rule of thumb, all things being equal the larger the speaker the better it will sound compared to a smaller one.
But these days all things are not equal.
Generally speaking, stand alone speakers will, more often than not, sound much better than the speakers that are built into computer monitors.
However, when comparing small stand alone speakers to larger ones, thanks to technology, that is no longer the case. There are micro speaker setups whose sound rivals larger speakers and in a number of cases sound just as good if not better while not taking up a lot of space.
I use a 4.1 setup when working at the computer and listening to WBPM NetRADIO. I have two in front of me to either side of the monitors spaced about 10 feet apart. I have the two “rear” speakers about 8 feet behind me also spaced about 10 feet apart. I have the sub-woofer behind the desk on the floor.
Sub woofersdon’t have to be aimed in the direction of the listener because of the characteristic of the bass signal. It will spread in all directions so no matter where you are sitting in relation to that speaker, this type of signal is said to be “omni-directional“. So,you should hear what comes out of that speaker sitting behind it just as well as if you were directly in front of it.
Different story as far as my other four speakers go and the same goes for your left and rights or you other speakers. They should be aimed in the direction of the listeners. Most of these systems come with plenty of info as to how to place them properly.
The sound that comes out of these speakers is more of a directional nature. Meaning that if you are not in an area that the speakers are aimed towards, you will not hear what comes out as well as if you were in the area they were pointed towards.
How the speakers are connected and where they are aimed will determine how well the surround sound or stereo effect is heard by the listener. It will also make a difference in how WBPM NetRADIO’s “Enhanced Stereo” format sounds as well.
One thing about cables:
The longer they need to be the more you should pay attention as to how thick the wires are. You do not want to use tiny little thin cables to connect the speakers up of they are more than 4 feet from the sound source. You also don’t want them longer than they need to be either.
Most systems that come designed to hook up to computers should the proper types of cable.
But for those who look to extend the speakers even further away you might want to consider getting cables that are a heavier gauge (thicker).
I’m really trying to keep this short so…
Here’s the drift… Many of you already have nice sound systems. There are a number of factors that make them so.
If you are in the market for a speaker setup. Take your time and shop around. You don’t need 50 bazillion speakers to get good sound. Actually there are a number of good sounding two speaker + sub woofer systems available. Here’s an article about them.
There are lots of manufacturers of speakers for computers these days. They include Logitech, Polk, Altec Lansing, Harmon Kardon and Creative.
Look for a set that will last a while. Why need to replace them every few years? So look to see how well built the speakers are. Are they sturdy enough to take an accident fall of knocked over or off of a desk?
Let your ears be the just about how they sound and …
Don’t be shy tell the sales person that you want to compare and decide what sounds good to you.
You don’t have to spend a small fortune on them anymore but you still have to remember … You get what you pay for!
Any questions just drop me a note!
Next….Connecting your computer to your sound system…